**This story has been updated to show the current death toll**

Authorities say this may be one of the deadliest incidents of human smuggling on record.

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Inside a 103-degree tractor trailer with no water or air conditioning, 51 migrants were found dead Monday night near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio officials say 16 others, including 4 children, were taken to hospitals and treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration, according to KWTX.

Almost 100 People in the Trailer

Borderreport.com the truck was believed to be owned by a company in South Texas. Felipe Betancourt Jr. of Alamo, Texas, says his father owns Betancourt Trucking and Harvesting, and has a red tractor-trailer rig similar to the one in San Antonio.

However, the family says their trailer is at their home and they believe it was 'cloned' last week, when it made a shipment to Laredo. That’s when they believe someone copied the truck's U.S. Department of Transportation and TxDOT number, also known as cloning.

According to the Texas Tribune, the tractor-trailer had a refrigeration system, but it did not appear to be working. In a particularly gruesome detail, many of the people found inside the vehicle appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning, which could have been an attempt to disguise the smell inside from K9 officers.

Who is Responsible for the Migrant Deaths?

Authorities said three people were in custody, but were not found with the truck, and it is unclear if the driver has been located. The League of United Latin American Citizens is blaming a broken immigration system for the deaths of those inside the trailer.

This is a developing story, and more details will be available as the investigation continues.


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Crime rates are expressed as the number of incidents per 100,000 people.

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